Minor Arcana

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The Minor Arcana, sometimes Lesser Arcana, are the suit cards in a tarot deck. Minor Arcana cards first appear in tarot card games, with pip cards numbered one (ace) to ten, along with court cards (or face cards) in each of four suits. In contemporary tarot decks the Minor Arcana are often illustrated—a convention popularized by the Rider–Waite tarot deck in 1910. Used in a tarot card reading in conjunction with the Major Arcana, the cards of the Minor Arcana suggest subtleties and details and signify day-to-day insights.[1]

Tarot variations derived from Italian decks and Spanish decks typically have a Minor Arcana of 56 cards, with 14 cards in each suit: Wands (alternately batons, clubs, staffs, or staves), Cups (chalices, goblets, or vessels), Swords (or blades), and Pentacles (coins, disks, or rings). The four court cards are commonly page, knight, queen, and king. Some variations have princess and prince cards replacing the page and knight cards; the historic Visconti-Sforza tarot deck expands the court with two additional cards: the damsel and the mounted lady. While the historic Tarot of Marseilles contains 56 cards, later decks based on the French suits of clubs (♣), hearts (), spades (♠), and diamonds () have only three face cards per suit, with a jack (or knave) in addition to the queen and king.

Symbolism[edit]

In divinatory, esoteric and occult tarot, the Minor Arcana are believed to represent relatively mundane features of life. The court cards represent the people whom one meets.

Each suit also has distinctive characteristics and connotations commonly held to be as follows:[2]

Latin suit French suit Element Class Faculty
Wands, batons, clubs, staves Clubs Fire Artisans Creativity and will
Pentacles, coins, disks, rings Diamonds Earth Merchants Material body or possessions
Cups, chalices, goblets, vessels Hearts Water Clergy Emotions and love
Swords, blades Spades Air Nobility and military Reason

Gallery of card suits[edit]

Illustrations from the Rider–Waite tarot deck, the most popular amongst English speakers, divided by suit and arranged in ascending order of face value.

Wands[edit]

Cups[edit]

Swords[edit]

Pentacles[edit]

Planetary associations[edit]

In the Order of the Golden Dawn, number cards are associated with planets, corresponding to their placement in Kabbalah.[3]

  • Threes - Saturn
  • Fours - Jupiter
  • Fives - Mars
  • Sixes - Sun
  • Sevens - Venus
  • Eights - Mercury
  • Nines - Moon
  • Tens - Earth

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Minor Arcana Tarot Cards". Tarot.com. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  2. ^ Dee, Jonathan (2002). "Introduction to the Minor Arcana". In Liz Dean (ed.). Tarot, An illustrated guide. Silverdale Books. ISBN 1-85605-685-6.
  3. ^ McCann, David. Houlding, Deborah (ed.). "Mercury in Myth & Occult Philosophy". The Traditional Astrologer. Nottingham, UK: Ascella.

Tarot Meanings for the Minor Arcana are also available via Psychic Revelation.

External links[edit]

Media related to Minor Arcana at Wikimedia Commons